Engagement Practice _ 31: Create a Strong Mentoring Culture

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Formal mentoring programs have become a popular way for companies to

meet three objectives at the same time: Increase opportunities for women

and minorities, develop future leaders, and enhance the retention of employees

at all levels. Mentoring programs have been found to be effective

in increasing employee retention in 77 percent of the companies that implemented

them.11

Successful mentoring programs are generally driven from the top

down, with strong endorsement and involvement by the CEO to encourage

involvement by managers at all levels. Some companies go with formal

programs calling for regular meetings and frequent monitoring, while others

prefer informal approaches where employees and mentors are free to

decide how often to meet.

Mentoring managers tend to take their responsibilities as mentors more

seriously when mentoring is one of the competencies for which they are

evaluated on performance reviews. Training sessions for mentors and mentees

to orient them to the process and clarify ground rules can be conducted

to support the process. Peer mentoring and coaching is offered when a

coworker has experience or knowledge to share.

Some large companies maintain databases of managers who have volunteered

to serve as mentors. Employees may review profiles of mentors

on file and submit their choices in order of preference. To relieve the time

demands of having too many mentees, some companies facilitate smallgroup

mentoring where four to eight mentees meet with one mentor.

Often, such groups meet on a rotating basis with mentors who are expert

in one area, such as e-commerce or cost accounting, and build their knowledge

in a variety of areas.

Recognizing that many new leaders don’t last two years in their new

roles, many companies have also created ‘‘on-boarding’’ programs for

newly hired executives to immerse them in the organization’s culture.